Samsung Galaxy S9+ review

GSMArena team, 15 March 2018.

The video camera has everything

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ supports 4K and 1080p video recording at 60fps or 30 fps, and it can be captured in the widespread H.264 or in the new H.265 (HEVC) format. OIS is available all the time, and you can use digital video stabilization in all but the 4K/60 fps mode. Okay, technically, EIS isn't available in 1:1 aspect 1440p either, but seriously - 1:1 videos?!

With the H.264 codec, the 4K @ 60fps are captured at 72Mbps bitrate, the 4K @ 30fps - 48Mbps, the 1080p @ 30fps - 13.3Mbps, and the 1080p @ 60fps - 28Mbps. The audio is always recorded in stereo at 256Kbps bitrate.

The H.265 4K videos at 60fps carry a bitrate of 42Mbps, while the audio is still stereo at 256Kbps. The other modes are captured at an almost halved bitrate of their H.264 counterparts.

On the S9 we observed an odd tendency to drop the framerate of 30fps videos to around 26fps, but we experienced no such issue on the S9+.

The videos captured in H.265 are virtually identical in quality to the ones recorded in H.264. Since the bitrate is lower, there is about 100MB difference in the footprint in every the 30s of 4K video footage. This could mean the world to users who record tons of videos, so we'd recommend to use the HEVC option for everything. The H.265 compatibility is pretty widespread already - Windows 10 and macOS support it by default, YouTube supports it, new phones can play it - you get the picture. Older computers, however, may struggle playing back the files smoothly.

The 4K videos captured both at 60, and 30 fps are virtually identical in quality. They are free of noise, there is enough of detail, but the foliage presentation is not the best we've seen. The colors are great though, and so is the contrast and white balance. There are no focus issues or compression artifacts. And dynamic range is nothing short of impressive.

The 1080p videos at both 30 and 60 fps also exhibit practically the same qualities. They are quite sharp, with plenty of detail, but other than that - they have the same essentials - great dynamic range, accurate colors and white balance, and high contrast.

The output from the telephoto camera is that little bit less sharp. Color saturation is a notch down too, and so is contrast. Overall, however, the zoomed-in videos are very pleasing. Provided you have enough light, of course, because in dimmer conditions you'd be getting a zoomed in view from the main camera and you should be prepared for some mushy footage.

Slow-mo videos

There is something else to steal the spotlight - 720p Super slow-mo capturing at 960fps.

Yes, Sony had that since last year, so Samsung can't claim first. The Koreans probably knew that, so they decided to make it a lot better than Sony's implementation.

Just like the Xperias, the new Galaxies can do 0.2s of slow-mo capturing at 960 fps. But the Xperia phones had a steep learning curve for hitting the button at the right time. We missed a lot of balloon pops, and it took us numerous attempts across a few days until we got the know-how.

Samsung captures the action automatically.

The phone begins the slow-mo sequence automatically thanks to a new clever AI algorithm, and you don't have to learn how and when to turn it on. And that's not just PR talk - we tried it, and we didn't miss a single balloon pop out of 20 or so takes. How about that?!

There is an option for manual triggering too, don't worry, so the advanced users aren't ignored either.

Slow-mo interface - Samsung Galaxy S9+ review Slow-mo interface - Samsung Galaxy S9+ review
Slow-mo interface

Finally, there is one more thing Samsung did better than Sony - an easy edit over the captured clip. After you are done eith the shooting, you get a very intuitive preview with all the slow-mo moments visible and easily editable. You can get rid of some or add sound to the ones you choose to keep.

And here is the kicker - in addition to those edits, you can also export the slow-mo parts as gifs, right there from the preview. Upon exporting you can choose one from three effects - loop, reverse, or swing.

Slow-mo GIF-making - Samsung Galaxy S9+ review Slow-mo GIF-making - Samsung Galaxy S9+ review Slow-mo GIF-making - Samsung Galaxy S9+ review
Slow-mo GIF-making

Indeed, it's obvious Samsung has worked a lot on bringing a meaningful slow-mo experience to its users, not just the tech and raw footage. And that could mean the world for the mainstream user.

Oh, aside from the Super slo-mo at 720p/960fps, there's also regular non-Super slo-mo at 1080p/240fps. Only it's not available by default, you need to enable it in settings - clearly Samsung doesn't want it to distract from the headline feature.

The path to non-Super slo-mo is rocky - Samsung Galaxy S9+ review The path to non-Super slo-mo is rocky - Samsung Galaxy S9+ review The path to non-Super slo-mo is rocky - Samsung Galaxy S9+ review
The path to non-Super slo-mo is rocky

The slow-mo videos work as advertised 8 of 10 tries, which honestly is a lot higher success rate than we expected. The quality is very good. Without further ado, enjoy our playlist of slow-mo videos below.

You can, of course, download untouched video samples, the way they came out of the Galaxy S9+. We've uploaded a bunch of them up on our server: a set of four from the normal camera (2160p/60fps, 2160p/30fps, 1080p/60fps, and 1080p/30fps), and a matching set from the telephoto one (2160p/60fps, 2160p/30fps, 1080p/60fps, and 1080p/30fps).

The last stop is, of course, our Video compare tool where you can compare the Galaxy S9+'s output against other phones we've tested. We've pre-selected the Pixel 2 XL and the iPhone X, but a different set of devices is but a few clicks away.

Video Compare Tool Video Compare Tool Video Compare Tool
Samsung Galaxy S9+ against the Pixel 2 XL and the iPhone X in our Video compare tool

Reader comments

  • Desto
  • 01 Nov 2022
  • X5u

Same with me

  • Ommy
  • 01 Jun 2022
  • NwI

S9+ for sure

  • Anonymous
  • 03 May 2022
  • 02J

I have a S9+ and I absolutely love it. I had a iphone 6 before and this blows it out of the water completely.